May 11, 2014: Mother's Day Severe Weather/Tornadoes (Final Version)

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Mother's Day - May 11, 2014

Tornadoes, Large Hail, Damaging
Winds and Heavy Rain Affect Mainly
Eastern Portions of the Coverage Area

To the right is a National Weather Service Radar loop, valid from 2:40 p.m. on Saturday, May 11th to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 11th.

The NWS Hastings coverage area is located within the orange outlined area labeled "GID", with the Interstate highways in red.

(Click Radar Loop To Enlarge)

Event Summary:

The first round of active Mother's Day weather started up already during the very early morning hours of Sunday, May 11, 2014, as a line of strong to severe thunderstorms quickly developed near the Nebraska/Kansas state line around 3 a.m.  This line gradually shifted north during the remainder of the overnight hours, dropping some large hail and bringing portions of the area their first round of heavy rainfall.  Hail ranging from quarter to ping pong ball size was reported in portions of the area, and it's likely other locations saw hail as well, but the time of night was not favorable to get many reports.

This first round of severe weather tapered off to an end around sunrise, and the rest of the morning into early afternoon was relatively quiet. A cold front started working its way into the area from the west, while a warm front was pushing north out of Kansas. The position of these fronts resulted in a large temperature gradient across the NWS Hastings coverage area, with afternoon temperatures ranging from around 50 degrees in the northwest to near 90 in the southeast.  When the mid afternoon hours arrived, thunderstorms began to develop in the Hastings area. Instability had been building all afternoon and deep layer shear was sufficient for thunderstorms to quickly become severe. While other thunderstorms did develop, the initial one that popped up southeast of Hastings started to work its way east, becoming anchored along the eastward extending warm front.  As it moved into the Clay, northern Fillmore and southeastern York County areas, a number of tornado reports were received.  Other thunderstorms were also responsible for large hail up to the size of hen eggs, damaging wind gusts and heavy rain.  Though shower and thunderstorm activity continued well into the overnight hours, the brunt of the activity had shifted into eastern Nebraska by late evening.

Some much-needed rainfall was also observed across the area, with several locations seeing rainfall amounts in excess of 1 inch.  Locations across portions of Adams county, Clay county, Hamilton county and York county in south central Nebraska saw some of the heaviest rainfall on Sunday afternoon...with rain amounts of two to three inches common through many locations. The combination of rain that fell early Sunday morning along with that which fell Sunday afternoon into Sunday night totaled as high as 5-7", primarily in parts of York County. This resulted in minor flooding of several creeks and streams in the area.



The following is information regarding confirmed tornadoes that struck the area. No additional details are expected to be added to the story unless new information warrants changes.  All of this information is considered preliminary and subject to change pending final review of the event and publication in NCDC StormData.

Tornado #1:  8.4 miles south of Glenvil (Clay County)
Rating: EF-0
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 70 mph
Time: 3:26 to 3:27 p.m. CDT
Path Length: Less than 1/4 mile
Max Path Width: 150 yards
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado was photographed by a local resident. The condensation funnel is not on the ground, however, the photos suggest the wind field likely reached the ground for a short time. No damage was reported with this tornado. The time and location were determined from the report and radar imagery.

Brief touchdown near Glenvil.


Tornado #2:  4.3 miles north-northwest of Fairfield (Clay County) to 4.8 miles northeast of Sutton (Fillmore County)
Rating: EF-3
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 150 mph
Time: 3:50 to 4:28 p.m. CDT
Path Length: 21.7 miles
Max Path Width: 1300 yards (approximately 3/4 mile)
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado was reported initially as a multi-vortex tornado for several miles before taking on a more traditional look south of Saronville, where it was described as a wedge tornado. Based upon reports and video, it appears the entire mesocyclone of the storm was near ground level southwest of Sutton.

Damage from this tornado was first noted north of Fairfield, where large tree limbs were knocked down and power poles broken.  The tornado shifted mainly east across Highway 14 south of Clay Center, with additional tree damage as well as irrigation pivots overturned.  It then started to move to the northeast, crossing Highway 41 east of Clay Center and Highway 6 a few miles west of Sutton, but powerful rear flank downdraft winds of 100 mph hammered Sutton and areas south-southwest of town, causing widespread property damage.  Moving in between Saronville and Sutton, the tornado then started a more east-northeast path, crossing Road 6 north of Sutton before dissipating approximately 5 miles northeast of town.

As the tornado approached and crossed Highway 6 it intensified to it strongest point.  Damage peaked a few miles north of Sutton, where the EF-3 rating was assigned, resulting from the destruction of a home.  Elsewhere along the path, a few other homes sustained less significant damage than the one north of Sutton, and a number of other outbuildings and grain bins were also damaged or destroyed.  Many trees were damaged, destroyed or contained debris (mainly from destroyed grain bins), irrigation pivots were overturned and power poles broken.

Storm Relative Velocity Data of this tornado from the KUEX Radar located near Blue Hill, NE.

Base Reflectivity Data of this tornado from the KUEX Radar located near Blue Hill, NE.

Irrigation pipe damage south of Saronville. Grain bin damage southeast of Saronville. Damage north of Sutton.

Damage north of Sutton. Damage northeast of Sutton. Damage northeast of Sutton.

Outbuilding destroyed near Sutton.
Photo courtesy of Clay County News.
Downtown Sutton.
Photo courtesy of Bryce Kintigh.
Tree damage in Sutton.
Photo courtesy of Tara Nielsen.

Track of the EF3 tornado near Sutton.


Tornado #3:  1.1 miles southeast of Grafton (Fillmore County)
Rating: EF-0
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 75 mph
Time: 4:25 to 4:26 p.m. CDT
Path Length: Less than 1/4 mile
Max Path Width: 100 yards
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado location was determined from video and chaser reports. An experienced meteorologist and others have reported that this tornado rotated anti-cyclonically, or the opposite direction most tornadoes rotate. Radar imagery and video suggest the anti-cyclonic circulation could have occurred, although the rotational direction could not be confirmed via field survey. No damage was reported with this tornado.

Brief touchdown near Grafton.


Tornado #4:  2.6 miles northwest of Grafton (Fillmore County) to 4 miles east-northeast of Fairmont (Fillmore County)
Rating: EF-2
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 120 mph
Time: 4:25 to 4:41 p.m. CDT
Path Length: 9.7 miles
Max Path Width: at least 750 yards (approximately 1/2 mile)
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado traveled rural areas of northern Fillmore County, bumping the York County line along the way.  One home suffered damage when part of the roof was torn away, while another older home was pushed approximately 30 feet off of its foundation. There was widespread power pole and tree damage, with some trees containing debris from grain bins, and a number of irrigation pivots were overturned.

Base Reflectivity Data of this tornado from KUEX Radar located near Blue Hill, NE.

Storm Relative Velocity Data of this tornado from KUEX Radar
located near Blue Hill, NE.

Damage from NW to N to NE of Grafton.

Track of the EF2 tornado near Grafton.


Tornado #5:  0.5 mile northwest of Fairmont (Fillmore County) to 2.2 miles northwest of Exeter (Fillmore County)
Rating: EF-1
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 90 mph
Time: 4:40 to 4:48 p.m. CDT
Path Length: 6.2 miles
Max Path Width: 150 yards
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado traveled rural areas and was witnessed by several storm chasers and experienced meteorologists. Video evidence, eyewitness accounts, radar imagey and even some of the damage confirm this tornado rotated anti-cyclonically, or the opposite direction most tornadoes rotate.  Damage along the path of the tornado included a grain bin and an old outbuiding being pushed off of their foundations, along with a roof partially blown off of another outbuilding. Numerous irrigation pivots were overturned, and there was plenty of tree damage. There was a home with minor roof damage.


Base Reflectivity and Storm Relative Velocity data showing
the anti-cyclonic tornado.

Damage just north of Fairmont.

Track of the EF1 tornado near Fairmont.


Tornado #6:  3 miles north of Exeter (Fillmore County) to near Goehner (Seward County, part of NWS Omaha/Valley's coverage area)
Rating
: EF-3
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 140 mph (occurred in Seward County)
Time: 4:57 to approximately 5:23 p.m. CDT
Path Length: A total of 15.2 miles, 5.1 miles of which occurred in Fillmore and York Counties
Max Path Width: 2640 yards (approximately 1.5 miles - occurred in Seward County)
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 1 minor injury

This tornado started in far northern Fillmore County, traversed a portion of York County and passed north of Cordova in Seward County.  Damage along the track was widespread, including one home which was totally destroyed. All 6 occupants took shelter in the basement.  Another home suffered less signifcant damage, but outbuildings on the same property were destroyed.  Along the path of this tornado, there were numerous irrigation pivots overturned, power poles broken as well as trees and grain bins either damaged or destroyed.


Storm Relative Velocity Data of this tornado from the KUEX Radar located near Blue Hill, NE.

Base Reflectivity Data of this tornado from the KUEX Radar located near Blue Hill, NE.

Damage from northeaster of Exeter.

Track of the EF3 tornado near Exeter.


Tornado #7: 11.3 miles east of McCool Junction (York County) to 1 mile north of Beaver Crossing (Seward County)
Rating: EF-1
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 90 mph (on York/Seward County line)
Time: 5:58 to approximately 6:09 p.m. CDT
Path Length: A total of 5.5 miles, 0.8 mile of which occurred in York County
Max Path Width: 700 yards (occurred in Seward County)
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado started just inside York County by about 0.8 mile and quickly strengthened. It destroyed a grain bin and power poles on the York/Seward County line. This tornado was only in York County for a short time, with most of its damage occurring in Seward County.  Damage along the path of the tornado included overturned irrigation pivots, broken power poles, and the destruction of grain bins.

Radar data from the KUEX Radar located
near Blue Hill, NE.

Track of the EF1 tornado
near Exeter.


Tornado #8: Approximately 10 miles east of McCool Junction (York County)
Rating: EF-0
Estimated Peak Wind Speed: 85 mph
Time: 5:04-5:06 p.m. CDT
Path Length: About one half mile
Max Path Width: 25 yards
Fatalities/Injuries: 0 / 0

This tornado actually moved southwest and was eventually engulfed into the main Cordova tornado. No damage was reported with this tornado.




A few of the other severe weather highlights from the early morning event:

  • Ping pong ball size (1.5") hail was reported in Orleans and Long Island, KS
  • Quarter size (1") hail was reported in Juniata and Hastings.

A few of the other severe weather highlights from the afternoon/evening event:

  • Hen egg size (2") hail was reported just to the east-southeast of Hastings.
  • Golf ball size (1.75") hail was reported approximately 6 miles south of Hastings as well as in Natoma, KS.
  • Ping pong ball size (1.5") hail was reported 2 miles southwest of Henderson, 1 mile south of Ayr, in Hastings and in Glenvil.
  • Half dollar size (1.25") hail was reported 5 miles west-southwest of Burr Oak, KS
  • Quarter size (1") hail was reported 4-6 miles south of Aurora, 3 miles southwest of Giltner and in Smith Center, KS.
  • Wind gusts estimated near 60 MPH were reported in Osborne, KS.
  • Heavy rain, with over 3 inches of rain reported across portions of York County. The resulting heavy rain resulted in some flooding, with a portion of the north bound lanes of Highway 281 south of Blue Hill covered by water and the closure of numerous country roads across York County.

    Preliminary storm reports (click image)


Here is an image of radar-estimated rainfall from the afternoon of the 11th through the early morning hours of the 12th. Note the narrow band of higher amounts that runs from near Hastings through York and into Seward County.

 

Below is a table which includes some of the highest 24-30 hour rain amounts reported to the National Weather Service in Hastings.  These rain amounts are a combination of rain during the TWO main rounds of storms (the first early morning on the 11th and the second the afternoon of the 11th into early morning of the 12th).

Site Rain Amount (inches)
1 ESE York (NeRAIN) 7.07
3 ESE Hampton (NeRAIN) 5.39
4 SE Waco (NeRAIN) 5.33
3 N York (NWS Observer) 4.53
 1 ENE McCool Junction (NeRAIN) 3.85
2 WNW Gresham (NeRAIN) 3.67
1 NW Aurora (NeRAIN) 3.55
7 SE Stromsburg (NeRAIN) 3.50
6 ENE Hastings (NeRAIN) 3.25
6 N Bradshaw (NeRAIN) 3.09
10 W Clay Center (NeRAIN) 2.97
4 NE Ayr (NeRAIN) 2.89
8 ESE Guide Rock (NeRAIN) 2.65
Aurora Airport (AWOS) 2.43
Hebron (NWS Observer) 2.36
Burr Oak, KS (NWS Observer) 2.22
4 E Superior (NWS Observer) 2.17
4 SE Phillips (NWS Observer) 2.12
3 NE Shelby (NWS Observer) 1.94
Clay Center (NWS Observer) 1.90
Smith Center, KS (NWS Observer) 1.67
Hastings Airport (ASOS) 1.51
Mankato, KS (NWS Observer) 1.28

 


 

Here are a few photos of the storms as they crossed portions of the area:

Multi-vortex tornado east of Clay Center.
Photo courtesy of Dale Byrkit.
Tornado near Sutton.
Photo courtesy of Philip Lueking.
Tornado near Exeter.
Photo courtesy of Brett Wright.


Here are a few hail photos:

Hail that fell around 3:45 a.m. in Orleans.
Photo courtesy of Chris Malone.
Hail in Smith Center, KS. Photo courtesy of Corrina Abney. Hail 5 miles south of Hastings.
Photo courtesy of Randy Gronewold.


Large hail near Duncan Field in Hastings.
Photo courtesy of
Zach Boden.
Large hail in Sutton.
Photo courtesy of
Janie Flores Bautista.

 

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.



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